In 2015 I pledged to  use no more than my fair global share of fibres. I was trying to determine what is a reasonable amount of clothing. After all one mans over consumption is after all another’s nothing to wear.

How Much

However there can be little doubt that we in the UK are consuming fibres in a hugely unsustainable way.
Heres how many textile fibres are produced annually: Total fibres, both natural & synthetic, around 8.5 million tonnes Rough calculations suggest that the average amount of fibres per annum, per person in the world, works out at 11.74 kg.
We in the UK are using 55kg of fabric per person and 35kg of that is on clothes. We are obviously taking more than our share of fabrics produced.
If everyone on the planet was to have 35kg of clothes each year, production would have to triple.

Synthetic Versus Natural Fibres

One of the much touted benefits of plastic is that it reduces pressure on natural resources. Nowhere is this more true than in fabric and fibres.Producing natural fibres is certainly resource intensive. And synthetic fabrics have moved on since the early days of crimpolene and can now convincingly replace anything from wool to silk. They used to make the sheerest of stockings to the thickest and woolliest of fleece jackets. Dirty old fishing nets can be recycled into saucy bikinis.

And at a fraction of the price. So much so that synthetics now make up 60% of the market.

While using synthetic fibres means that less space is needed to grow cotton or flax, less pesticides are used and vegans can be pleased that less sheep need shearing and silk worms dont need to die for us.

But of course synthetics come with their own very real and severe environmental costs. Not least is that every time a synthetic fabric is washed it releases hundreds of tiny little plastic fibres these are washed out into the sea with grave consequences.

Some Will Have To Go Without?

If everyone on the planet was to have 35kg of clothes each year, production would have to triple.
This is unsustainable.
To replace all the synthetics with natural fibres would also have a huge environmental impact but synthetics need to be phased out.
So if we cannot produce more, we have to consume less. Or accept a huge global inequality where some have more clothes than they can possibly wear while others have a few rags.

Well not on my watch

Global Rationing
If we cannot produce more, we have to consume less. the purpose of this project is to see if I can live within my global share of natural fibres as produced at the current rate. And cut synthetics.

This is how the equation works for me:
We cannot exceed current levels of production:
We cannot expect others to want less than we have:
We cannot swamp the market with synthetics:
Therefore I have to live with my global share of natural fibres.

Global share 11.74 kg per person
of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres.
The rest is synthetics.
As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.
Just so you know a kingsize double duvet cover from Ikea weighs in at 991 grams and a Marks & Spencer short-sleeved tee-shirt is 156 grams.

But can it be done? Cautious reply after 2 and a half years is yes it can.

You can read more on the subject and check my figures and sources here.

Whats Sustainable Clothing?
Plastic-free, fair-trade, ethically made and lots more.You can read my clothing manifesto here
You can read more on the subject and check

Second Hand Clothes
Can I buy second hand clothes to supplement my allowance? No. I can buy second-hand but it has to count as part of my allowance.

By Year Synopsis 


The counting Has started….


I used
3.835 natural fibres
318g synthetic fibres
Total 45g regenerated fibres
So I am over on natural fibres but way under on synthetics. Read more.
However in 2015  I bought 3.15 kg of natural fibre products and 3.2 kg of synthetic fibres. – so I had a 65g surplus of natural fibres to use up.


I bought 3.15 kg of natural fibre products and 3.2 kg of synthetic fibres. See them here.

2014 & What I started with

Rationing might not seem so much of a burden if I already had a hundred outfits and enough sheets to stock a small hotel. I dont. You can see my original wardrobe here

2 pairs of trousers
1 nightie
1 Bra


Tops, Cardigans & Jackets
4 no Long Sleeve Tops – cotton
1 grey – 2010
1 striped – 2009
1 blue – 2011
1 red – 2014 year
Ranging from 5 to 3 years old except the red which was bought last year.

6 no T Shirts & Vests – cotton (10)
1 grey – had for ever.
Marks & Sparks 2014 156g each – no hangers
1 black
1 navy
1 pale grey
1 vest – years plus
2 no Other (12)
wool tunic that I made from woolen fabric I have had for years. I have been wearing that for 18 months? Possibly longer.
Cotton shirt bought in India 2011

2 no Warmer wear & Coats (14)
1 synthetic jacket pre 2011
1 nylon raincoat pre 2011

4 no. Bottoms (18)
Shorts Summer 2014 Synthetic Fibres
Trackie bums cotton don’t know how old – over a year.
Thin long trews hot thin cotton bought Summer 2014
Thick long trews cold corduroy Autumn 2014 Marks & Spencers

1 no Skirts & Dresses (19)
Linen dress made for Observer Awards 2014

Underwear & Sleep
Knickers (20)
I have counted knickers as one because for some reason I feel shy about telling you how many pairs of pants I own!?
Philippino pirate pants
M&S sometime last year
France 2014 a pack of knickers
2 no Bras (21)
1 reasonable bought spring 2014 synthetic fibres
1 utterly awful that I only wear when the reasonable one is in the wash. At least 2 years old
4 no Socks (25)
2 thin pairs of socks – new before we left – gift.
2 thick pairs of sock – made by my mum.

5 no Sleep & Swim (32)

  • 1 nightgowns warm
  • 1 nightgown cool 2014 M&S
  • 1 Merino long johns 3 years at least
  • 2 bikinis years old– all synthetic
  • Towelling dressing gown
  • thin cotton dressing gown

7 no Outerwear Hats & Shawls (39)
1 wool hat 2013
1 straw hat 2014
1 wool scarf gift 2013
3 pairs of gloves
1 no shawl

2 no Work in progress (41)
Spotty dress work in progress bought from charity shop
Sleeveless long vest / sleeveless tunic most cotton bought in Malaysia 2011

4 no In storage (The cupboard we don’t talk about) (46)
1 smart – wool years old
1 very warm sheepskin second hand ages ago
2 waterproof  walking coat- synthetic years old
1 raincoat – synthetic cant even remember when

Other fabrics

back packers flannel

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3 thoughts on “Fair Share Fabric Project

  1. Though I get the sentiment of avoiding excess, I want to question this concept of “fair share”. I have lived in several places in the world, the most extremes (weather-wise) being Haiti and Canada. In Haiti I needed very few clothes as the weather was quite warm. In Canada, however, I need winter clothing, fall/spring clothing, summer clothing. Thus I think that fabric distribution needs to be a factor of equity more than equality. That being noted, efforts to limit consumption are necessary if we aim to stop treading so heavily on our dear planet.

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